CamelMILK Project at World Agricultural Show in Paris
Interview with Ms. Marta Garron
Ms. Marta Garron is a food engineer and has a bachelor’s degree in food and science technology. Ms. Garron is specialized in dairy products and cheese. She has worked in beverage industry as project manager and in different cheese factories. Since 2013, she is working in Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA) participating in many industrial R&D projects and EU funded research projects. Currently she is the coordinator of the IRTA Cheese Making Course and is also the project coordinator of CAMELMILK project.
We did ask her some question regarding her opinion about the camel milk sector and participation of CAMELMILK project on the World Agriculture Show (SIA) in Parise 2022:
- What do you expect of participating the CAMELMILK project at World Agriculture Show (SIA)?
- To be introduced with future of agriculture in France and Europe in 2022 and beyond
- To explore new food products and innovations and
- To be introduced with the visitors’ perception of the camel sector in France or Europe
- What is the current perception of camel milk by consumers, and can we expect it to change in 5 years from now?
During the SIA CAMELMILK project representatives offered visitors to taste camel milk. Many visitors tasted camel milk and their perception was quite good. Many of them didn’t know anything about camel milk but they were very curious to taste it and also, they were interested if the milk is from France or Europe and if yes, where they could buy it. Consumers were surprised that in France, and Europe in general there are camel farms, and camel milk as well. In five years from now, I expect that camel milk could get more popular around Europe and it would be introduced by some consumers as a new food on a daily base.
- What are the advantages and obstacles of camel milk consumption?
Main advantages could be summarised as:
- Camel milk has a good perception in consumers due to nutritional and healthy properties
- Camel milk is a niche market with more demand year by year
Main Obstacles could be summarised as:
- Legislation, there is a need to take off legal barriers in order to be legal to sell camel milk in the different countries of Europe
- High price
- Distribution on camel milk in markets that are distant from the camel farm itself
- How would you describe present state of camel breeding in Europe?
There are several camel farms in different European countries such Germany, Netherlands, France and Spain. Mainly their main business is tourism, but the number of camel farms that produce camel milk has started to increase too. It is also important to have a good management of camel farms because camel is not a “big cow“.
- Do you think camels are a new player in the European agricultural landscape?
Camels is a new “little“ player. Some consumers are interested in camel milk and if the demand is increasing, actual farmers or new farmers could start to breed camels in Europe. There are also many foreigners who relocated in Europe and used to drink camel milk, so they are also a potential consumer.
Interview with Mr. Christian Schoettl
Mr. Christian Schoettl is mayor of the commune of Janvry in France which organizes the international fair of dromedaries and camelids. Mr. Schoettl also chairs a Federation for the development of dromedaries and camelids in France and in Europe.
- What do you expect from participating in the World Agricultural Show?
It is necessary to tend to a “trivialization” of camels and dromedaries in the landscape, to pass from an image of animal of curiosity, exotic to a “normal” form inscribed in the landscape, it is revealing that the organizers have chosen to install the stand of the “camelerie” in the building “countries of the world” we will have won when we are with the cows and the sheep!
- What is the current consumer perception of camel milk and can it be expected to change in 5 years?
There are two perceptions: that of the millions of emigrants who come from countries where camel milk is consumed and who constitute an important “captive” clientele and the Europeans who are unaware of the taste, the quality and the advantages, it is in multiplying production by relying on the first ones that we will be able to reach the most people who do not know, in particular by obtaining distribution in supermarkets but for that production must follow.
- What are the benefits and barriers of drinking camel milk?
Lack of knowledge of the nutritional and digestive qualities, and in fact the public is never in contact with the product.
- How would you describe the current state of camel breeding in Europe?
The livestock comes from old history, the import problems deprive of a possibility of selection which would improve production, without the possibility of importing, one of our lines of work is the possibility of importing embryos which do not have been put in the nomenclature of importable embryos by simple omission of the authorities because dromedaries and camels are not included in the “box” agriculture.
- Do you think camels are a new player in the European agricultural landscape?
Of course, they respond to a demand as expressed above, the qualities of producers and the profitability in relation to the quantities of food.
Interview with Mr. Bernard Faye
Mr. Bernard Faye is is a former researcher in animal production sector at the International Cooperation Centre for agronomic Research in Development (CIRAD – France) and currently works as independent International Camel Expert, FAO consultant. As independent camel expert, he participated to the feasibility study of the FAO project on the “valorization of camel products” in Morocco (2015), to the training of the staff of FAO camel project in Mauritania in 2016 and to the support and evaluation of the FAO project in Chad (TCP project) in 2017-2018.
What do you expect of participating at World agriculture salon?
The main objective for participate to the International Agricultural Fair (IAF) in Paris by accompanying the stand of “La Camelerie” with his camels, was to show to a large public that camels are not only zoo or circus animals due to its “exotic status”, but also a producing animal able to enter in the European agricultural landscape. The presence of camels in the building “Agriculture of the world” was a first step. One could expect in few years to be present in the building “farm animals” gathering all cattle, sheep, goat and pig breeds of France. The mediatic covering of the presence of camels was really fantastic and was also the opportunity to speak about CAMELMILK project and to explain the challenges of camel milk development around the world in general and in Europe in particular. The presence of our partners from Algeria, Turkey and Spain testifies to the multinational nature of this challenge.
What is the current perception of camel milk by consumers and can we expect it to change in 5 years?
Before tasting the milk, the posture of the consumers on the stand was ambivalent: among those having no experience in drinking camel milk, some were a priori reluctant, expecting a beverage with a strong smell or taste as for goat milk, and some were enthusiast to try a new flavour experience. After tasting, all new consumers were surprised by the “sweetness” and “lightness” of camel milk compared to cow milk. Few consumers had already experience in camel milk drinking (people having spent time in “camel countries” or being from Maghreb or Middle East. Globally, the perception was good and the demand for the camel milk bottles available was not negligible and “La Camelerie” was rapidly out of stock despite of a price of 20€/liter!
What are the advantages and obstacles of camel milk consumption?
Camel milk is renown for its dietetic properties and its health effect (proved or not). These characteristics are obviously a strong commercial argument and a justification of its price. However, with a so important price differential with other milks, camel milk will never be a substitution product of cow milk. It will stay in a narrow market adopted by consumers looking for “welfare product” and “natural product” essentially present in specific shops, at least for the beginning.
How would you describe present state of camel breeding in Europe?
Camels are present in Europe since Roman antiquity where it was used as pack animal along the roman ways. During the recent centuries, its presence was limited to Circus and zoos. However, since around 40 years, some private camel owners appeared in Europe by using camels for touristic attractions (camel riding, pedagogical farms, racing…), except in Spain (Canary Islands) where camels were used since XVth century as auxiliary of agriculture, then for tourism from the years 60. Nowadays, few camel farmers have started dairy production (Netherland, Germany, Switzerland and recently in France. It is difficult to know the exact number of camels living in Europe due to the lack of official data, but we can evaluate a total population of around 3000 heads. The main constraint is the difficulties to import new reproducers from camel countries, except from Canary Islands, which is contributing to a certain consanguinity.
Do you think camels are a new player in the European agricultural landscape?
The important actual change is effectively the new use of camel in Europe, from tourism to production. For the moment, only milk is potentially able to enter in the European market. Camel meat is not yet on today’s agenda, but if the number dairy camel farms would increase, the question of the slaughtering of surplus males would emerge later. The production of wool is also a potential but the number of Bactrian camels with its abundant high-quality wool is limited for the moment in Europe even if some farmers in Austria or Sweden tried to valorise this by-product. In any case, camel will become a marginal but an effective new player in the European landscape.